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2019 BAIC BJ20 Standard: The Jolly Green Giant Slayer

BAIC Philippines President George Chua poses with the BJ20 during its launch.

After having successfully marketed their product line of family-oriented 3-row 7-seat multi-purpose vehicles (MPV), Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation (Bayan Auto), the Philippine distributor of BAIC Automotive Group Co., Ltd., introduced their first crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV), the 2019 BJ20 on September 28, 2018.

George Chua drives the BJ20 around the Baguio Country Club.

A few days later, on the 8th of October, Bayan Auto invited a select group of motoring journalists, including yours truly, to test drive the BJ20 from Manila to Baguio City and back. We took the higher-spec BJ20 Luxury from the traffic gridlock of Metro Manila to a high-speed drive over the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) and on a roller coaster ride up and down the mountain roads leading to the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Needless to say, we came away impressed with the Snow White BJ20 Luxury.

The BJ20 as our Media Car during the JSK Auto Fun Run 8.

Lean, Green Machine

On the 24th of November, we were privileged to drive an Aurora Green 2019 BAIC BJ20 Standard from Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga for the 8th edition of the JSK Auto Fun Run. We revved up the turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and had tremendous fun on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). The double overhead camshaft (DOHC)-equipped 16-valve MIVEC-enhanced inline-4 engine churns out 147 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 210 Newton-meters of torque between 2,000 to 4,500 rpm, which was more than enough to keep pace with the sports cars and modified hot rods that joined the JSK convoy.

147hp 1.5-liter Turbo Four

Out of respect for the NLEX patrol officers, we reigned in those horses, which can propel the 1,460-kilogram BJ20 to a claimed 170 km/h top speed, and settled at the legal 100 km/h speed limit. All throughout the drive, the Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) shifted gears automatically and seamlessly. Our civilized manner of driving on the highway returned an average fuel consumption of 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers, which is equivalent to 13.33 kilometer per liter, while the stop-and-go traffic in the metropolis increased the consumption to 12 liters/km, which is about 8.33 km/liter. Despite the reduced fuel mileage, we were happy to note that the BJ20 complies with Euro 5 standards to help protect the environment while it’s sitting in traffic.

7.5 liters per kilometer is equivalent to 13.33 km/liter.

Rugged Uptown Looks

Squint your eyes and the BJ20 looks like a smaller version of a Hummer or an FJ Cruiser. The front is adorned with a 5-section grill and two high-intensity discharge (HID) Xenon headlamps topped with eyebrow-like daylight running lights (DRL). Its front facade impacts a rugged, almost robotic yet lovable appearance that it is almost certain the BJ20 will have a cameo role in the next Transformers movie.

Excuse me, is that a new mini FJ Cruiser?

The side view of the BJ20 imparts a chunky tough look with a high beltline, contoured slab-sided doors, over-fenders that are color-keyed with the bumpers, and thick A-, B- and C-pillars. The 2,670-millimeter wheelbase separates the front and rear 18-inch 10-spoke wheels shod with 225/55-18 Cooper CS4 Touring tires. The 4,451millimeter-long BJ20 features a 215mm ground clearance, a 24-degree approach angle, a 30-degree departure angle, and a 20-degree ramp break-over angle. Although, the available units are front-drive (FWD) only, we’d like to see a 4WD version in the future.

Side view looks chunky and tough.

Meaty Cooper tires on 10-spoke 18-inch wheels.

At the back, the shapely LED tail lamps and dual exhaust outlets look like they belong on an Aston Martin instead of a Chinese crossover. The rear tailgate lifts up effortlessly and opens tall and wide to accept a variety of stuff that can be carried in the cargo hold, which can be further augmented by folding down the rear seat backs that split 60-40.

The back end looks chunky and the tailgate opens up to…

… a generous cargo area that can swallow weekend luggage with the rear seatbacks up…

… or swallow year-long luggage with the rear seatbacks down.

Hey, BJ20, Aston Martin wants their tail lamps back.

Space – The Next Frontier

Even though our test vehicle was a BJ20 Standard, it was more than just standard fare inside. The occupants are seated onto bolstered and comfortable fabric-covered seats inside a quiet spacious cocoon. The rear legroom remains generous even after the front seats are slid to their backstop while the headroom is refreshingly breezy thanks to the squared roof design. Comfort and convenience features are thoughtfully built into the cabin.

Tilting and sliding sunroof lets the air and the sunshine in.

Driver’s seat is bolstered and covered in grippy fabric.

Front legroom is generous with rake and seatback adjustment.

Rear legroom is likewise generous.

Front passengers get their own LED map lamps…

… while rear passengers get their own reading lamps.

Standard Tech

The cockpit of the BJ20 Standard is also far more than just standard. The driver faces a 2-spoke steering wheel, two round gauges that measure revs and velocity with digital displays of the engine temperature and the amount of fuel left in the tank, and an LCD information center that says the fuel range, average fuel consumption, trip meter, time, gear indicator, and odometer readings. A small panel at the left of the steering wheel houses the controls for the electric side mirrors, traction control, and illumination level of the instrument panel while the center panel houses the air-conditioning controls. A 2-DIN infotainment system sits in the middle of the dash.

Driver’s cockpit

BJ20 instrument panel mixes analog and digital gauges.

6,000 rpm tachometer and fuel gauge readout

220 km/h speedometer with digital temp gauge

LCD panel shows a lot of love, err… range

Control panel for the mirrors, interior lights and traction control

Manual A/C controls are standard fare for the BJ20 Standard.

Infotainment system provides navigation, radio and video.

AM/FM radio with digital display and preset channels

Monitor also shows the video of the back-up camera.

Center console houses A/T shifter, electric parking brake, and the engine start/stop button.

Human and Cat Approved

The BJ20 Standard is not only comfortable for human passengers but for our road trip-loving cats as well. Despite the reduced sophistication with the absence of some technologies of the BJ20 Luxury, we find the Standard a bit more to our liking. Our cats Elys and Coco were quiet and relaxed during our long drive to Clark, which confirms our own feelings that this BAIC crossover is one fine comfortable ride.

Our Maine Coon / Ragdoll cats Coco and Elys enjoy the BJ20’s backseat.

Coco even went for another ride without Elys.

As stated in our previous report, we find the BJ20 offers unbeatable value-for-money. At P1.148M, the Standard is priced P140,000 lower than the Luxury variant, which gives us 140,000 reasons to declare this Aurora Green 2019 BAIC BJ20 Standard a jolly green giant slayer in our book. The crossover vehicles from established car brands are hereby warned.

It would be nice to have one in my garage.

SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle Type               :           Front-engine, FWD, 5-door crossover SUV

Price                            :           P1,148,000.00

Engine                         :           1.5-liter inline-4 DOHC 16V turbocharged

Transmission               :           CVT

Power                          :           [email protected]

Torque                         :           [email protected]

Wheelbase                   :           2670 mm

Length                         :           4451 mm

Width                          :           1845 mm

Height                         :           1700 mm

Curb Weight               :           1460 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity     :           60 liters

Front Suspension        :           McPherson struts

Rear Suspension          :           Multi-link beam

Front Brakes               :           Ventilated discs

Rear Brakes                 :           Solid discs

Emissions Standards   :           Euro 5

Best Fuel Mileage       :           13.33 km/liter (as tested)

Ave. Fuel Mileage       :           8.33 km/liter (recorded)

CONTACT DETAILS

Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation

2232 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila

Tel. No.: (02) 751-0154 / 893-1312 / 810-0151

Website: www.baicphilippines.com

Social Media: BAIC PHILIPPINES